Category Archives: Automotive

Review: Gran Turismo 5

(Editor’s Note: I originally started this draft about a year after Gran Turismo 5 came out.  Most of it still applies; some of the gripes were corrected in Gran Turismo’s most excellent next release, Gran Turismo 6.)

What can I say about Gran Turismo 5, a game that was in development for five years; a game that charged $39.99 for its demo download three years ago?

Seriously.

GT5 EU Box ArtIs it cool?  Yes, it’s cool.  But then again, I grew up playing Gran Turismo — I probably racked up 100’s and 100’s of hours on Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo II alone (Gran Turismo III and IV, I never played much, and I regret that — III was apparently one of the best games ever released on the PS2 during the 2000’s).  GT5 could be nothing more than a port of Gran Turismo IV for the PS3, and I’d still love it.  I’m probably not the best person to judge whether or not GT5 is cool.

Does it look good?  Yes, it looks great.

Does it have lots of badass cars?  Check.

By this point, with all the hype that’s been built-up about this game over the years; all the stories of just how maniacal the creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, was in making sure that GT5 was going to absolutely perfect; all the stories of how imaging each car for GT5 was taking 10 times as long as it took to image a car for GT4 (which itself took 10 times as long to image for as it did GT2)…

With all this hype, how could GT5 possibly make anyone happy?

The Bad

The loading times are horrendous. (Try about a minute of waiting, every time you start a race.)

The selection of cars is limited, and the “full resolution” cars, new for GT5, is maybe 10-15% of the total cars.  The rest are all ports of the GT4 cars, and the much poorer graphic quality of the cars can show.

The Good

All right, but it’s not all bad.  Most of the graphics look amazing on the PS3.  And finally, finally, FINALLY, there’s a multiplayer network option!

Yes, the dreams you had when you were younger of playing Gran Turismo verses races from all around the world is true, and it’s great.

Not only that, but you can play with your close friends and family on the Playstation Network, and can gift cars to them (great for giving your fiends a leg-up when they first start playing).

Final Word

Is it worth it?

If you want to play Gran Turismo on the PS3, it’s the only way to do it (unless you’re going to pop in an old copy of Gran Turismo 1 from the PS days).

Was it worth the wait, though?

No — no game should take five years to come out, past the point of the first demo.  No game should ever charge for a demo (and nearly a full price charge, too).

Ugh.  Just ugh.

EV Market Tepid, Except for All the Cars Being Sold

Seen on an otherwise kinda interesting article from Forbes about how Volt sales didn’t match what GM expected, and how the company is choosing to direct its advertising in another direction for the revamped Volt:

And while overall sales of plug-in hybrids and full EVs remain tepid except for Teslas, and U.S. oil supplies look more secure than ever, the future of propulsion always has a way of surprising us. Note, Bunkley wrote, how most people wrote off the future of large SUVs several years ago — and now sales are going back through the roof.

“Tepid” except for Teslas?  Look, I know the author is kinda going for “Oh, ho hum, EV’s, they’re certainly just a flash in the pan technology soon to go away”, but still…

Chart showing sales of Leaf's nearly triple that of Teslas
[Source: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/05/nissan-leaf-still-king-ford-fusion-energi-sales-jump-201/]
And that’s not just for the month of July — that’s the trend for the entire year.

I expect this kinda thing from BusinessInsider.com — I don’t expect it from Forbes.

Mauve Storm Fixed!

And it is fixed.  And I am happy.

Turns out it was the stator in the distributor and the u-joints in the driveshaft all along.  Wish I would’ve known that — I could’ve been driving it around for the past year or so, but I am now!

Now, all I need to do is fix a pesky problem with the odometer not working, and I’ll be all set.

Revelations to me

Some things I’ve learned lately. I try to keep learning all the time, whether I’m making an active effort of it or not:

1) When you’re under your car doing an oil change, and you push up on your driveshaft just for fun, and it flexes upwards a few inches, no, this is not normal behavior. You need to get it fixed. :(

2) The distributor cap and rotor on your car are not hard to change. Do it now.

3) Sadly enough, sometimes Windows XP works better on laptops than Ubuntu, if the laptop is more than four or five years old.

4) The people working at Autozone don’t know jack shit about cars 90% of the time. Don’t insult them, just prepare yourself to talk to someone who doesn’t know the difference between a greaseable u-joint and a non-greaseable u-joint (even though the names are pretty self-explanatory).

5) Consolidating your loans is pretty easy, as long as you remember your government pin-number (that you haven’t used for years).

6) Whenever you get a new cell phone plan, even on contract, you have a federally-mandated 14-day “buyer’s remorse” period in which you can return your cell phone and cancel the contract without any repercussions. Don’t listen to the salesperson if they say “no, you don’t” — oftentimes, like the Autozone employees mentioned up above, they don’t know a damn thing.

7) Make sure the spare tire in your car is properly inflated, or else you may find yourself changing a flat tire one day that your car has developed, only to find the spare you just pulled out of your trunk is flat as well.

…and that’s about it for now.

Overheating

Apparently, the overheating with my white mustang is somehow connected to engine RPM! Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either. If I just sit there, my car starts overheating, but if I put it into PARK and start bringing up the engine speed, it starts cooling off.

Beats me as to why, but I’m happy that I can at least cool it down if I get stuck in traffic, now!

All done!

All done putting in the new water pump on my white mustang! Only took about two hours — quickest damn job I’ve ever done. It’s a vast difference than it is trying to replace the water pump on a V6 or a V8 — those take hours, if not days.

I noticed my timing belt is starting to get kinda old in there, too, unfortunately.

Fortunately, I seriously don’t think it’s going to be that hard to do even that kinda job anymore — I’m starting to get to the point (in automotive maintenance) where the only thing holding me back is the availability of certain types of tools for the job, otherwise I’m thinking I could do damn near anything, car-wise.

New Tires

I got a flat tire going home on Friday of last week (well, it was more like I had a tire explode on me…), and had to put on my little wimpy space-saver spare in a parking lot. (It was a church parking lot, too!)

So, I get online and order up some tires real quick from TireRack.com, get ’em shipped to my house, and wait until today to put them on my rims — I just take the rims off the car and bring them up to the tire shop directly, since I hate anyone else driving my car.

Well, they were real busy there, so the guy just told me to leave my rims and the new tires there, and I could come back in about an hour and pick them up. Well, I come back and they’re not done with them yet, so I wait around for about another hour or so (it’s a Saturday, so they were real busy, and I overheard the manager guy saying he had someone quit just that morning), and then the guy tells me to pull my car around so he can give me the the newly mounted tires.

Well, to make a long story short, he didn’t make me pay anything! Yay! Said he felt bad that it took so long — it’s not a tiny gesture, either, since it’s like $40 to mount two tires at this particular place (they do a good job, usually).

I won’t say what the guy’s name was, so he won’t get in trouble or anything, but it makes me feel good to know that there’s still people like that around — lets me know that I can bring my car there in the future and not feel bad about it. Repeat business, and all that.